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    Louisville has recently welcomed a few projects and businesses with more than just enthusiasm. Crowdfunding, through sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, have led to some successful projects: Crowdfunding helped a group of U of L students build a rocket; opened food trucks like Grind; funded McQuixote, a new coffee shop in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Portland; and financed artistic projects like The Foxery’s first studio album, Unless.

    The latest of these successfully funded projects is Joe Banet’s Funked & Fermented Kimchi Lab, a sample-of-the-month club that will bring subscribers, near and far, the monthly gift of kimchi.

    The project ended it’s campaign on December 14, 2014 when 30 backers put forward over 150 percent of his 1,000 dollar goal.


    Check out our Q&A with founder Joe Banet to find out more about the project:


    For those who are unfamiliar, can you give an explanation of what kimchi is?

    In my words, it is lacto-fermented vegetables and/or fruits that can contain a number of traditional Asian ingredients like ginger, garlic, scallion, fish sauce, sesame, even dried shrimp (though I never use them).

    However, Korean chile powder, either in its fine or coarse composition, is the cornerstone ingredient and is what most people would come to expect. But kimchi does not have to contain a large amount if any chile powder as in the case of my white kimchi, which is also vegetarian.

    [Ed: Kimchi is a staple of the Korean diet and is often found in Asian markets or in special sections of the grocery store. The most common kind is spicy and made mostly with cabbage.]


    Kimchi isn't really a food that's been widely introduced into the American diet - how did you become familiar with it?

    My first introduction to kimchi was around 2002. I was a culinary student at Sullivan University and there was a Chef Instructor who had a Korean-American wife who was known for her numerous variations of the funky stuff. It was then that I realized the possibilities for hundreds of authentic kimchi varieties. It was incomprehensible and yet very exciting.


    Are you making all the kimchi yourself? What's that process like?

    I do all the production myself. I am really trying to utilize as much local produce as possible, so far I have been working with Holden Family Farm as well as Groce Family Farm who both do great work in the field. The first step is to salt the vegetables, for me the ratios are all slightly different. Then prepare the kimchi mix, that's where all those Asian flavors come into play. Mix well and transfer to a fermentation crock – my favorite is a German sauerkraut vessel that has a built in water lock, that helps keep the air out and lets gases escape, (the gases are all apart of the funk and completely natural). You can find similar crocks for sale at Korean markets as well. 


    How has reception been to your project? Have many people signed up? Are most of your subscribers from the Korean community, or has it been a broader community?

    This has been a great start, I begun the Kickstarter last November just to see if anyone would be interested and that lead to 34 contributions. You've gotta start somewhere and since then I continue to encounter people who are interested in signing up. It has been a broad scoop of people from all walks of life and that makes me happy.



    You had a successful Kickstarter campaign to begin this project - how was that experience? How quickly was the project funded? Are backers receiving any perks?

    The Kickstarter was exciting, at times it seemed to be going nowhere and in the blink of an eye a few more people would join. Many of whom I'd never met face-to-face, some from out of town. I started with a 1,000 dollar goal and a 30 day time limit. I reached that goal after three weeks and, in the end, raised $1532 for my project. Nearly all backers received the gift of kimchi (depending on the pledge level), some small tasting jars while others became my inaugural members to the Kimchi of the Month Club. 


    What kinds of kimchi do you plan to send out?

    The first month of the club saw a spicy batch of Holden Family Farms scarlet turnip kimchi. Bright red jewels delightfully crunchy with a nice heat on the finish. I have not announced next month or any of the up and coming months but the idea is a year-long member will receive a different, distinctive kimchi each and every time. I have many varieties, many tested and others just ideas on paper.


    How can those who would like to subscribe do so? Where can your kimchi be picked up? 

    I am developing a website appropriately named... (it will have a storefront that offers memberships as well as a rotation of kimchi for sale retail) but for now those who wish to subscribe can leave a message on the Funked & Fermented Facebook page or shoot an email to 

    Additionally, I am doing drop offs for members who live in the Louisville area. For out-of-towners I offer shipment, via USPS priority mail. 


    Where do you see this project going? What are your ultimate goals?

    I see this project growing with the popularity of kimchi which has been on the rise for years now. Ultimately, I want to see my product being distributed nationwide and perhaps even a brick and mortar storefront in Louisville. For years now, I've worked in kitchens such as Craft Dallas, The Seelbach, Corbett's, Harvest, 610 Magnolia, Rye and now Feast BBQ in NuLu. The pace and lifestyle is fun, yet hectic. One day I would like to just make kimchi and travel when I'm not doing that. That'd be the life!


    Photos courtesy of Joe Banet.

    Michelle Eigenheer's picture

    About Michelle Eigenheer

    A Louisville transplant beginning to appreciate all the city's small things.

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